NYT Announces 2013 Season
Paul Roseby announces plans for the future of the National Youth Theatre
North London’s newest theatre opens doors.
The Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, North London, opens to the public for the first time.
SPECIAL OFFER: West End Eurovision
A special discount on ticket prices for the West End’s most fabulous, frivolous event – West End Eurovision.
Surviving Actors returns to Manchester for new event
The convention will take place on Saturday 18th May and will feature loads of industry professionals.
Blog: Being Brave
Katie Brennan, with humour and wit, writes about being brave and following your dreams – even when they seem like nightmares.
Blog: Postcard from the One Man, Two Guvnors tour
We catch up with former First Word writer Rosie Wyatt, somewhere between New Zealand and Australia.
Blog: Interactive theatre/cinema
Peter Hinton, a regular performer with Future/Secret Cinema shares his experience of a truly audience interactive experience.
Blog: Taking on an iconic role
Nadim Naaman writes about taking on the iconic role of Anatoly in the first UK Revival of Chess
To Kill A Mockingbird, Regent’s Park Open Air, ✭✭✭✭
Edward Theakston braves the summer weather for an entrancing night at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Review: The History Boys, Crucible Theatre, ✭✭✭
Emily Hardy takes a trip to Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre to eye up The History Boys
Review: From the Mouths of Mothers, Pleasance ✭✭✭
Ewan Stewart reviews From the Mouths of Mothers at the Pleasance
Review: Tanzi Libre, Southwark Playhouse ✭✭
Southwark Playhouse re-opens in a new venue, but is Tanzi Libre a champion? JBR reviews.
Review: The Custard Boys, Tabard ****
Edward Theakston finds contemporary resonances in Glenn Chandler’s adaptation of The Custard Boys at The Tabard.
The Custard Boys looks at a group of evacuated London boys who have found themselves in a small Norfolk village. The plight of Second World War evacuees has been examined in various ways before, but never quite like this. Glenn Chandler’s adaptation of John Rae’s controversial 1961 novel has a tangible sense of vivacity. Directing ones own work can be a difficult path to tread; there is a danger of being too close to the material. Chandler, however, makes a successful directorial debut.
Charlie Cussons is a strong central force in the production. Cussons captures the awkward, pensive Curlew as he tentatively grows closer to the young refugee Stein, tenderly played by Andrew St. Pierre. Despite moments of tenderness and electricity between the two, the relationship never wholly achieves the truthfulness necessary to make Curlew’s clumsy declaration of love completely believable.
The fantastic ensemble cast deserves credit for their cohesive fluidity. They playfully transform the stage using the composite set and play dress-up in order to become adult characters. These characters are suitably heightened, the audience seeing the caricatures the boys see, though they are still portrayed with a lightness of touch. Comic turns from Jack Cameron and Tom Sanderson as Curlew’s parents, as well as Marco Petrucco and Jack Elliot Thomson as Doctor Freeman and his wife particularly stood out. Thomson and Petrucco both delivered very touching soliloquies as the eager-to-please Peter and troublesome villager Willy, and Jack Cameron as Lewis held the understated control of a natural leader. In vocal and physical dexterity Josh Hall outshone the cast, jumping from pedantic know-it-all Felix to the perverse and fearsome Headmaster with incredible ease.
Cecelia Carey’s set design consisted of découpaging the black box theatre with weathered maps and giving the boys cable reels and planks to play with to create the various settings. Costumes were appropriate throughout, and the functional additions to the uniforms were shrewdly chosen. The simplicity of Elliot Griggs’ lighting design was the key to its success in so effectively conjuring the appropriate atmospheres.
Chandler’s writing adeptly balances the boys’ naivety with an appreciation of the true horrors of war. There are moments when some development feels absent, however, and the final dénouement leaves the boys all too unmoved. Chandler’s direction, though, was generally sensitive and the use of humour was well timed.
The themes of racial and sexual intolerance are still as relevant as they were fifty years ago, and with a renewed national focus on intolerance in schools, this play certainly has contemporary poignancy.
**** (4 stars)
Runs until 12th May